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Reaching out

Anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one knows that grief can be lonely, particularly if it is a long-term partner who has passed away. In this current pandemic, when it isn’t possible to meet up with friends and family, bereavement can be even more isolating. We’ve noticed an increasing number of folk who are really struggling.

We do appreciate that people often find it difficult to know what to say to somebody who is bereaved and find it hard to pick up the phone. But, if you do know somebody who is grieving and alone, we’d encourage you to make that call.

This is what the charity Cruse Bereavement Care says:

Many friends and family who want to support people can feel overwhelmed by these situations. It is normal to feel worried about saying the wrong thing. It is normal to feel helpless or trapped in your own fears.

Be honest. Acknowledge the news by sharing your condolences, saying how sorry you are that their friend or relative has died. Share your thoughts about the person who died (if appropriate), tell your friend or relative how much the person will be missed and that you are thinking of them. Remind them that you are there for them, as much as you can be.

Don’t worry too much about saying exactly the right thing. The feeling will come across and it is more important that you say something than that you find the perfect words.

Click here for more advice from Cruse on what to say.

If you’re still nervous about picking up the phone, then send a text/email, a DM in social media (if appropriate) or send a card or letter.

Alternatively, why not leave something on the doorstep? They will probably be overwhelmed with flowers, so think outside the box and leave something which shows that you’re really thinking about them. This could be as simple as their favourite chocolate bar, a book you think they might enjoy reading or a DVD they might like to watch.

Others might appreciate a little basket for ‘self care’ items – such as hand-cream and some essential oils.

In these lockdown times, then perhaps a little package involving a hobby they enjoy might be appreciated and this could also help to fill some time for them too. We heard that somebody left a knitting pattern and some wool on a neighbour’s doorstep, asking if they could possibly make them a woolly hat for the cold weather? This not only gave the lady something to do but made them feel needed. Alternatively, somebody else might appreciate a jigsaw puzzle or some seeds for their garden.

Maybe make up a little afternoon tea (this could be as simple as a packet of biscuits and some tea bags) and arrange to Zoom them that day, so you can enjoy the tea together. Alternatively, pop to a local coffee shop and leave a coffee and cake on their doorstep. It’ll give you a focus to the call and something to kick off the conversation. But, still remember to mention their loss and their loved one.

We were listening to a podcast about grief recently and it had a very good piece of advice. The fact remains that the person’s loved one has died – you are not going to make that better or, on the other hand, make the situation any worse with what you say. Over time, people in grief will probably not even remember what you said, but they will remember that you were there for them.

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